Today's Sunday Statesman Journal has a caustic letter to the editor regarding the recent City Council decision to kill the Salem River Crossing/Third Bridge project on a 6-3 vote.
I couldn't find the letter on the newspaper's web site, so wasn't able to leave a comment telling Rose Treasure how much I disagreed with what she said -- which was full of falsehoods.
So to set the record straight from my perspective, and blow off some irritated steam, here's my responses (in red) to Rose's letter, complete with links to actual facts.
West Salem is on the short end of the third bridge decision
To the people writing to the editor, crowing about their bridge win -- you are crowing and patting themselves on the back for endangering the lives of your neighbors, your little sibling, over the bridge.
Huh? Some people have expressed their support for the vote by a clear majority of the City Council to pull the plug on a poorly planned bridge project that deserved its nickname of Billion Dollar Boondoggle. What you call "crowing" others call praise for a wise decision.
No one's life is being endangered. Emergency vehicles can use the Union Street bridge if necessary. The West Salem Fire Station is being re-opened. The Oregon legislature has made a commitment to seismically retrofit the Center Street bridge to markedly reduce the risk of collapse in a major earthquake.
You're congratulating yourselves and the do nothing city council for, well, doing nothing, a decision which hurts property values, damages life quality, and puts everyone on this side of the river in danger of being cut off.
It's hard to see how property values in West Salem are harmed by a decision to kill a bridge project that had no funding, would have required tolling on both the new bridge and existing bridges, and would have taken many years to build -- if that ever happened.
By contrast, retrofitting the Center Street bridge is estimated to cost only about $60 million, a whole lot less than the $430 million cost of the Salem River Crossing project, excluding financing costs. So there goes the "cut off' argument.
I don't know what the letter writer means by "damages life quality." If she means stuck in traffic, the City Council authorized a Congestion Relief Task Force that has made recommendations for alleviating downtown-area traffic problems.
Congratulations. You're a big bully, and you forced us to accept your will.
The City Council is composed of eight councilors and a mayor elected by Salem voters. Six of the nine members of the City Council made campaign promises to oppose a Third Bridge. Doing what you promised citizens you would do isn't bullying. It is what elected officials should do: keep their word.
Also, who is "us"? The City Council represents all of Salem. Bridge supporters who live in West Salem seem to feel a sense of entitlement. Because this minority wants a Third Bridge, they believe that everybody in Salem should do their bidding. That isn't how democracy works.
After all, our lives after a major earthquake or a bridge-damaging event are not worth tearing down houses or moving streets, or even dealing with a little congestion in your neighborhood.
As noted above, no lives are threatened because the Third Bridge project was put to a well-deserved death.
It is over and we have our answer, so we should all shut our mouths now and let you talk about unity. No thank you.
I haven't heard any elected officials telling bridge supporters to shut their mouths. Quite the opposite, in fact. The Mayor and city councilors have been urging supporters of a Third Bridge to work on other ways to alleviate traffic problems in the downtown area. This is the "unity" being talked about. Everybody coming together to move forward in a positive manner.
This city council does nothing to benefit us.
That's a ridiculous statement. I recently wrote about accomplishments of the City Council. Some people may object to what the Council has done, but that's how politics works. Rarely is a decision applauded by everybody.
They took plastic bags and left us with nothing. Took streets and camp-ways from the homeless and left them with nothing. Took one bridge and left us with nothing. They are the 2019 do nothing council.
More ridiculousness. You're left with reusable bags. And with paper bags that likely will cost 5 cents. The City of Salem is working on ways to reduce homelessness. You're left with the two current bridges and the Union Street bridge.
That is their legacy, and now yours, east Salemites. You did nothing, gave nothing, and produced nothing but damage. Congratulations.
Rose, what you call "damage," many others applaud as wise decision-making. Just because you don't like what the City Council has done, it makes no sense to call it nothing. That's amazingly self-centered.
I'm a liberal/progressive. I often (well, usually) disagree with what conservatives in Congress and the White House do when they're in control. However, I don't call what they do nothing. I call it bad decisions. Likewise with what conservatives on the Salem City Council did when they had a majority.
In our representative democracy, elections are how people can register their dissatisfaction with decisions made by elected officials. Meaning, vote them out. Or, register their satisfaction by re-electing the officials. Progressives have worked hard to move from a 1-8 City Council minority in 2014 to a 6-3 majority in 2019.
Elections have consequences. Like, killing the Third Bridge, as the six progressives promised voters.